Monday, May 19, 2014

The Gift in Doing the Work

The last few days have been especially wonderful for me.   The preparation for yesterday's exhibition was demanding.   As usual, I procrastinated, hoping for inspiration, direction, a vision of how I might present this work that is so important to me.

As time grew shorter and my sense of urgency increased, I chose the simplest task and started to work.   As I worked, things came to me, solutions to the problems I was facing seemed to come from nowhere. The more I worked the more focussed I became.  When I encountered things that I was unsure about I would go downstairs to talk with Heather on how I might best approach them and she would stop whatever she was doing to listen and offer her ideas.   When I made mistakes, she came to help and her skills once again shone like the morning sun.

The fact is I never sold anything yesterday.  We had 134 visitors to the exhibition and relatively few showed much interest.  But I learned something.  It's about doing the work.  It is the work that is important.   I was happier over the last few days than I have been for a long time.  My worries, oh those worries, faded into the background as I grappled with each challenge.  I felt a sense of satisfaction as each of the projects reached its completion.   I felt the potential of doing work that has value to me, not for the money, for the integrity of doing the work.

Many things came up yesterday that I found especially challenging.  I dropped my prices.  It seemed that everyone there was undervaluing their work.  Many were charging at a rate that barely covered their costs.   But I honestly believe that price isn't important.   I don't think I will ever put a price on my work again.   The real benefit, the joy, came when the few who really got what I was doing, responded to it with their own enthusiasm.   That was the gift.   It didn't happen a lot, but when it did, I felt very fulfilled.

I think that putting price tags on the work (mine was the most expensive work there) creates a barrier between the meaning of the piece and the joy of relating to something that speaks to us.

Heather helped me set up and did a couple of shots that I would like to share with you as evidence of my joy.   (See, I'm almost smiling!)

In closing, I would like to thank Diane and Dirk whose seemingly boundless energy and professionalism made this show possible.   True Gabriolans those two!


  1. Congrats James. You made a great leap forward!

  2. Having lived in Toronto for many years I was always aware of the humanity that is present, even in the meanest of dark streets. The commitment that you bring to your work contained that humanity in a sensitive and priceless form. I was moved by your images. Thank you.

  3. Thank you Tom. It was a pleasure to talk with you at the show. Your comment means a lot to me.